The only thing I take seriously is my Freedom. And Bacon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Ark Animal Hospital - Best Vet in Bucks County!

Diablo

My Australian Cattle Dog Diablo HATED going to the vet, so we went once to Ark Animal Hospital and went to outdoor clinics for his rabies updates (he tolerated these slightly better). Then Diablo decided to lunge at the tires of a dump truck while we were waiting to cross the street and I rushed him to Ark Animal. I can't even begin to tell you how caring and compassionate the staff was. From the receptionist to the techs to the doctors. Diablo is no longer with us and we miss him terribly but  we have a chocolate lab puppy now- who had a case of kennel cough and pneumonia and so we've REALLY got to know the staff at Ark Animal and they are all truly wonderful. From calling to make an appointment, to the clean and spacious office, and as an added bonus, I love the Ark Animal pets that wander around - esp. Zander the Cattle Dog.
Jack Henry
If you are looking for caring, kind, gregarious, and thorough animal hospital, this is the place for you and those with fur in your family.
***also of note- my daughter (8 years old at the time) - spotted a bunny on the road that had been horribly injured and was barely breathing. She insisted we take it to the vet so we took it to Ark Animal where they graciously stopped it's suffering. Hearing that my daughter wanted to be a vet one day, they offered to give her a tour of the hospital which she loved and appreciated.
Ark Animal truly goes above and beyond the call of animal duty!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Bourbon Cranberry Jalapeno Bites - Babycakes Pie Pop maker

Getting my hair done at Blue tomorrow. Since Lynda has departed for a gig in the city, I'm going to be trying out a  new stylist. The reasonable thrifty part of me says since Lynda left, maybe I should try to find a local place to get my hair done instead of traveling 40 minutes to Huntingdon Valley. But the other part of me says FUCK THAT - Will and his crew are so fantastic - and do so much to help the community. It's totally worth the drive.
Anyway - I'll be bringing a dozen of the Bourbon Cranberry Jalapeno bites I made with my Babycakes pie pop maker.
If. They. Make. It. Until. Tomorrow.

I made this recipe up on the fly - if you don't have a Babycakes pie pop maker, you can make them using a small cookie cutter and cookie sheet. I'm terrible at writing down recipes - so if you are a person that needs absolute specifics - you might want to skip this...

Bourbon Cranberry Jalapeno Pastry Bites
(makes about 18)
12 oz fresh cranberries
3/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup sugar
some orange zest
Few shakes of Chinese 5 Spice
18 small pieces of pickled jalapeno
Puff Pastry Sheet (thawed)

Mix liquids and sugar in sauce pan - bring to a boil.
Lower heat and add cranberries, orange zest and Chinese 5 Spice

Let cook for about 10-13 minutes. Stir a few times.  You should hear cranberries popping.
Remove from heat, let cool.
Once cool, use immersion blender to make into a jam like consistency.

Roll out puff pastry sheet until very thin and then cut out your pie pops (or, if you don't have a machine, use small cookie cutter).

I place the bourbon cranberry mixture into a Ziploc bag and squeezed a small amount into the middle of the pastry - top with small piece of jalapeno- then top with another pastry round and follow pie pop directions.

After they were done, I basted them with a simple syrup solution and sprinkled on white sugar crystals.

This has it all - booze, tartness, sweetness, heat, all wrapped up in a little bitty tiny pastry - it's absolutely perfect!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Smitten With Babycakes

I had 2 coupons for Bed Bath & Beyond that were going to expire so I popped in thinking I'd load up on Keurig Coffee - and there, right next to the display was a babycakes mini pie maker. WHATTTTTTTTTT??!!!
Recently, I've been obsessed with pies thanks to Lisa who is the pie queen, and Ella Kinsella, author of the SouthernPied Serial.
As much as I love to make pies, I love to experiment with flavors my family does not appreciate: sweet potato and bacon; pecan bourbon and bacon; pecan, cranberry, bacon (do  you see a theme here?).
I could make one small pie just for myself, but it seemed ridiculous to heat up the oven for just one little pie - and then in to my life walked the babycakes mini pie maker!
It makes 4 mini pies in about 10 minutes. This is awesome because now my family can have there boring apple pie, and I can have jalapeno, apple, and bacon pie!
I had a second 10.00 off 30.00$ coupon for Bed Bath & Beyond, so of course, I had to buy the babycake mini cupcake maker too! It makes 8 cupcakes at a time, but can also be used for mini pies (the difference is the mini cupcake maker makes pies that can be eaten in 2 bites, vs the mini pie maker makes pies that take about 4/5 bites to eat).

When I arrived home, I immediately went to work. Though I'm usually all about homemade, I cheated and bought ready made pie crust and canned fruit/pudding fillings because I wanted to experiment. After I was finished, I jumped on the internet  to find more ideas about what I could make and also, to read reviews (I rarely buy something without reading reviews) and then discovered babycakes had a 'pie pop' maker - in which you can make  pie on a stick. 
WHATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!
I discovered Kohls carries this (Bed Bath & Beyond didn't carry it as of this writing) and well, hello, I've tried making pie on stick myself and had okay results, but suddenly, I was intrigued - if this machine could make it easier, why the heck not -also it was on sale at Kohl's (24.99) - if that's not a sign, I don't know what is.
grilled cheese bites
But by the time I bought the pie pop maker, I'd already made an assortment of pies (and Nutella truffles dipped in caramel for a Halloween party), had cleaned the kitchen and also ran out of dough. So instead, I made a quick batch of mini grilled cheese rounds and they were fun, easy, and very tasty. There are so many different things you can make with ALL the babycakes makers - from quesadillas to scones to calzones to ravioli - not just for cupcakes/muffins/pies.
I took pictures of my first babycakes adventure. Keep in mind, it was my first time;  they don't look beautiful, but they tasted wonderful!
With the mini cupcake maker - banana chocolate pudding pies (topped later with whip cream), apple caramel pie.
Using the mini pie maker - I made lemon pie and for me - apple, bacon, cheddar pie.
Using the pie pop maker - I made mini grilled cheese (these would be really fun for a party served with various dipping sauces!).
These babycakes makers are really fun, easy to clean, and perfect for the family that has different tastes.
Of course, I did end up also buying some coffee from my Keurig - because nothing compliments pie like a fresh hot cup of coffee!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Puppy Dog Surprise. Welcome Jack Henry!

The house was so empty with Dibalo being gone, and since I work from home, the silence was overwhelming. All I could do was stare at all the places he claimed as his own; the space next to my desk, the spot at the front door, in front of the fireplace. I couldn't focus on getting anything done - no writing, no reading, no cooking, no baking, no EATING! I didn't even feel like Pintersting! I had sworn the day after Diablo died, I would not ever want another dog. And then a few days later, I opened the computer and started searching for dogs. And this seemed to be the only thing that got my mind off Diablo. John said "Wait a month." I said, "I need something to distract me - and the only thing that's going to distract me is a new dog." And so...he said he was going to get me an iPad as a birthday/Christmas present, but if I'd rather have a dog, he'd give that to me instead.
After breakfast at the Cross Keys Diner Tuesday, we went to Jack's Dog Farm and picked out a chocolate lab pup. I named him Bob (though for some reason, the few people we told about Bob, kept calling him Jack - and we kind of liked that name too). We decided to surprise Katie with him and the staff at Cutter's Mill is so awesome, I called and talked to Kayla who said they would love to help us surprise Katie. They made up a dog tag that said "I Belong To Katie Freed" and John arrived just before opening on Saturday morning with "Bob" (who would later become Jack Henry - or "Just Jack"). Katie and I arrived at Cutter's Mill (they always have dog events there, so seeing a dog inside Cutter's Mill is not surprising!). Rich, the manager, was holding Bob/Jack and we asked to see him. I asked if I could video tape him and he said "sure" - and then I asked Katie to read the dog tag and that's when she discovered that the adorable chocolate lab was our new pup. "I call him Bob - but we were thinking about the name Jack," I said. "Jack. For sure," Katie said. And so that's that. Though we miss Diablo terribly and he fills a place in our heart that no one will ever replace, he'd surely want us to fill the empty house with love and laughter again. Thanks to everyone who called, sent flowers, cards, emails, and left comments. Animal lovers are a special kind of people and John, Katie, and I were so touched. And Thank You to Rich and Kayla at Cutter's Mill in Chalfont! "There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face." ~Ben Williams